Mercer County PAGenWeb

Reverand John H. Bates

John H. Bates.  By any of the principles of biography this writer ought to pen a concise sketch of the life of the Rev. John H. Bates, close intimacy from boyhood, beginning as the family pastor, continued unbroken through the checkered years and was intensified by his gracious words at the marriage altar, and later at the funeral of the bride, followed by the same office at the grave of my mother, in turn to be followed by my ministrations at the grave of his wife.

Yet within the limitations of this paper it is very difficult to seize upon the principle features of his life.

The Rev. John H. Bates was born in Lowell, Mass., Nov. 27, 1848, the only child of John M. and Emily Blackman Bates.  His father had come from England to the Merrimac Printing Works, where he introduced a printing

method for making fine calico (perhaps his own invention) a much better method than any before used in this country. Left a widow when her son was seven years of age, his mother married again and moved to Salem, Oregon, where his childhood and youth were spent. Very early in life he showed a marked aptitude for public speaking and was con­sidered a coming speaker on the stump and in the pulpit even then.

He attended Willamette university, a Methodist institution. and was graduated from Mt. Union College and Boston Theological Seminary.

His life as a preacher began when he was eighteen and continued while he was pursuing his collegiate and theological studies.

In 1873 he married Caroline Phillips, daughter of Samuel Phillips, of Mercer, Pa. Five children were born of this union: Samuel P. Bates, now deceased; Emily B. Ballard, of Long Beach, California; Madge B. Horton, of Buffalo, N. Y.; Charles E. Bates, of Cattaraugus, N. Y., and John H. Bates, Jr., of Pasadena, California.

He joined the Erie Conference after serving churches at Franklin and Oil City, Pa., and served pastorates at Leon, Westfield, Dunkirk, Mayville, Silver Creek, Meadville, Cattaraugus and Sherman, N. Y., re tiring in 1905 on account of the ill health of his wife. The last twenty years of his life were spent at Buffalo, during which time he did considerable supply work.

Mrs. Bates died in 1920, leaving in his care his granddaughter, Alice H. Bates, the daughter of his son, Samuel, for whom he kept his home until his death on February 11th, 1926, which came as the result of having been hit by a street car in Buffalo a few weeks previously. Dr. Bruce S. Wright, of Asbury-Delaware M. E. Church, Buffalo, N. Y., one of the Allegheny College students who attended his church at Meadville, officiated, assisted by Dr. Milton B. Pratt, District Superintendent, of the Buffalo District. Interment was at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo.

In the large sense the immortal Elegy may be near the truth when Gray says,

“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,

And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”

Inasmuch as one of the penalties of ministerial service for many is that rich talent, and even genius, may be sacrificed on the altars of devotion to great causes or principles, yet in this case we may take issue with the Elegist, ‘And flowered sweetness never wasted where Its gorgeous beauty was by man unseen, It lured the bee to pollenate the fair, And many grew where few before had been.”

He was an exceptionally devout scholar and preacher, whose mind, even in retirement, kept fresh and vigorous, demonstrating the fact in the extent and variety of subjects covered by his library, that there is no retreat like a cultivated mind. He was an amateur photographer of rare skill, and many people in Western New York and Pennsylvania will remember his illustrated lectures in the days when the stereoptican held the place the movie occupies today.

While pastor at Silver Creek he wrote a book entitled, Christian Science and Its Problems, said at the time of its publication, by the Outlook and Chicago Inter-Ocean, to be an authority on the subject.

The writer was invited by him to assist in the correction of the proofs and thus well knows the labor and research entering into that volume. We are destined to treasure his memory, rejoice in his record, take pride in the keenness of his intellect, his suave manners, his interest in life with all its vital issues, his never-failing question, “What are you read­ing now ?“ is indicative of all that is best in man, since he employed his well earned leisure in the perfecting of his mind and heart, contrary to the custom of many he thus died in the active ministry of pleasant helpfulness to all who knew him.

Servant of God, well done.

Written by Herbert H. Clare. Memoirs of Deceased Preachers, Erie Conference Journal and Yearbook, Ninety-first session, 1926, pages 602-604

Return to Biography Index Page

Return to Home Page